PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 128/2000 - 7 December 2000
--------------------------------

"If these recommendations were to be implemented, what would be the
consequences for UK scientists? Firstly, UK participation in the
construction and running of a new dedicated telescope would be an
exciting opportunity which one hopes would be firmly grasped. The
redeployment of the JKT and the reservation of a small amount of time on
larger telescopes for NEO work would inevitably have some consequences
on existing programmes, but one hopes that within the context of the wider
programme these changes would be insignificant. The promotion of impact
and mitigation studies could generate considerable activity within the
atmospheric physics, geophysics, and space science communities. The
organizational consequences could affect RAS Council, as the RAS is now the
adhering body to the IAU
(which will certainly be involved in any new forum). Finally, if a
British Centre were to be set up, then one might expect a more coordinated
framework for UK studies, and a higher profile for NEO work both in
scientific and public arenas."
    -- David A Williams, Astronomy & Geophysics, December 2000


"The broad and enthusiastic response by politicians from all parties
and regions in the North West shows that there is not only widest
support, but real expectation that the recommended Spaceguard Telescope
will be built on Merseyside. Clearly, this is a golden opportunity for TTL
and Merseyside to become one of the world's top producers of high-
technology telescopes and their associated equipment."
   -- Benny Peiser, Daily Post, 7 December 2000


(1) SUPPORT FOR BID TO BUILD SPACEGUARD TELESCOPE
    DAILY POST, 7 December 2000

(2) THE TASK FORCE ON NEAR EARTH OBJECTS
    David A Williams

(3) ANOTHER BLOW FOR GEOLOGICAL GRADUALISM: CONTINENTAL LAND MASSES CREATED
IN FAST BURSTS
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(5) MAD COW DISEASE 'MAY HAVE COME FROM STARDUST'
    Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

(6) MARS ROCK FORMATIONS MAY CONTAIN FOSSILIZED LIFE
    Space.com, 5 December 2000

(7) OH DEAR: GREEN SENATOR DOWN UNDER IN PROTEST OVER STARRY POLUTION ......
    NINEMSN, 5 December 2000

(8) AND FINALLY: ORBIT SOMETHING FOR FUN
    Matthew Genge <M.Genge@nhm.ac.uk>

=======================
(1) SUPPORT FOR BID TO BUILD SPACEGUARD TELESCOPE

From DAILY POST, 7 December 2000

Politicians have joined the growing support for Liverpool's bid to build a
giant telescope to search for potentially hazardous asteroids and comets.
The funding and building of the proposed telescope was recommended by a task
force set up by Science Minister, Lord Sainsbury.

Spaceguard UK is lobbying the government to commission JMU's Telescope
Technologies Ltd (TTL) to design and build the instrument.

Dr Benny Peiser, a JMU researcher and spokesman for [Spaceguard UK], said he
had received a letter from 11 MPs, MEPs Den Dover and Brian Simpson, Lord
Alton of Liverpool and Lord Wade of Charlton pledging their full support for
the campaign.

He said: "The broad and enthusiastic response by politicians from all
parties and regions in the North West shows that there is not only widest
support, but real expectation that the recommended Spaceguard Telescope will
be built on Merseyside."

"Clearly, this is a golden opportunity for TTL and Merseyside to become one
of the world's top producers of high-technology telescopes and their
associated equipment."

TTL is a wholly owned subsidiary of JMU and is the only company in the UK
designing and producing professional astronomical telescopes.

Dr Peiser said if successful the 15m project would create up to 50 new jobs
and safeguard 220 jobs already created by the university's telescope
building initiative.

Copyright 2000, Daily Post

====================
(2) THE TASK FORCE ON NEAR EARTH OBJECTS

From Astronomy & Geophysics. The Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society
December 2000, vol 41, p.6

David A Williams, one of the three eminent scientists chosen to assess this
field, summarizes deliberations of the committee

On 4 January 2000, to considerable media interest, the Minister for Science,
Lord Sainsbury, announced the setting up of a Task Force on Potentially
Hazardous Near Earth Objects. Did he know something that others didn't? That
was the question being asked then. In fact, the reasons for setting up the
Task Force were more prosaic: the Task Force was to assess the hazard and
the risk associated with the impact of such objects (NEOs) on Earth, and to
advise the government on possible UK contributions to the international
efforts. Its members were Dr Harry Atkinson (chairman), Sir Crispin Tickell,
and Prof. David Williams, none of whom were NEO experts and who would
therefore be expected to take an independent view.

The Task Force consulted widely and published its report to renewed media
interest on 18 September 2000 (you can read it at
www.nearearthobjects.co.uk). It describes the nature of asteroids and comets
and the threat they pose to Earth by collision. It reviews observational
techniques currently in use (see, for example, Harris and Davies 1999), and
noted the on-going debate about mitigation of the threat. There are several
useful annexes, including a history of the recognition of the threat, and a
list of notable impacts and of recent near- misses. The report concludes
that there is a significant yet small risk to life on Earth from NEOs; it is
at such a level that we should take it seriously. It is not a joke; neither
is it a worry to keep us awake at night. The main effort should, in the view
of the Task Force, be to improve the information that we have about the
population of NEOs. The essence of the report is contained in its 14
recommendations. Lord Sainsbury is now considering the report and it is
hoped that he will be able to respond by the end of this year.

The Task Force recommendations cover three broad areas: observations;
mitigation and impact; and organization to meet the threat. Here, I have
only space to highlight the main issues and to reflect briefly on the
consequences of implementation of the recommendations.

The USA leads the world in its programmes to detect potentially hazardous
NEOs of 1 km size and larger. Currently, only about half of the estimated
total of such objects have been detected. The most pressing need, therefore,
is for more complete knowledge of these and smaller objects, and the first
recommendation is for the construction by international partners of a new
dedicated 3m class telescope to be located in the southern hemisphere. This
would greatly enhance the discovery rate.

Many discovered NEOs are, however, lost because the requisite follow-Up
observations have not been made. The Task Force recommends that the Johannes
Kapteyn telescope on La Palma be dedicated to follow-up. In addition,
observations using larger telescopes to confirm orbits and to identify the
chemical and physical properties should be possible outside the normal
allocation procedures. The huge data flow from discovery and follow-up is
currently co-ordinated at the Minor Planet Center in Harvard. The Task Force
recommends that the unique and vital worth of the MPC be secured through
international funding.

Mitigation implies both civil defence and deflection; these are areas of
continuing debate at present, by scientists in a wide range of disciplines.
The Task Force hopes to see such studies encouraged within the wider
scientific community.

The threat is, of course, global. Any response should also involve the whole
planet. The Task Force believes that it isn't sufficient to wait until a
serious threat materializes, and encourages the UK government to begin now
to work with other governments to establish an international forum in which
the science can be discussed and the response to a threat formulated.
European cooperation is also desirable; Europe has the capability to
contribute equally with the USA to NEO studies, and the Task Force calls on
the UK government to work with others to achieve that complementary role.
Finally, the Task Force recommends the setting up of a British Centre for
NEO studies, to provide advice to the government and to the public, and to
promote British involvement in international activities.

If these recommendations were to be implemented, what would be the
consequences for UK scientists?

Firstly, UK participation in the construction and running of a new dedicated
telescope would be an exciting opportunity which one hopes would be firmly
grasped. The redeployment of the JKT and the reservation of a small amount
of time on larger telescopes for NEO work would inevitably have some
consequences on existing programmes, but one hopes that within the context
of the wider programme these changes would be insignificant. The promotion
of impact and mitigation studies could generate considerable activity within
the atmospheric physics, geophysics, and space science communities. The
organizational consequences could affect RAS Council, as the RAS is now the
adhering body to the IAU (which will certainly be involved in any new
forum). Finally, if a British Centre were to be set up, then one might
expect a more coordinated framework for UK studies, and a higher profile for
NEO work both in scientific and public arenas.

Reference
Harris and Davies 1999 A&G 40 110

Copyright Astronomy & Geophysics. The permission by the A&G editor and the
author to post this article on CCNet is kindly acknowledged.

=================
(3) ANOTHER BLOW FOR GEOLOGICAL GRADUALISM: CONTINENTAL LAND MASSES CREATED
IN FAST BURSTS

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

University of Toronto

CONTACT:
Alexander Cruden
U of T Department of Geology
ph: (416) 946-7284; email: cruden@geology.utoronto.ca

U of T Public Affairs
ph: (416) 978-6974; email: jf.wong@utoronto.ca

Dec. 6, 2000

Earth's continental land masses created in short, fast bursts

Findings challenge multi-million year continental crust theory

By Janet Wong

Scientists believe they have unraveled one of geology's most enduring
mysteries about how the Earth's continental crust was built, and they say it
happened in a relative blink of an eye.

According to Alexander Cruden, associate professor of geology at the
University of Toronto and second author of the paper to appear in the Dec. 6
issue of Nature, the way that granite forms -- a rock that makes up about 70
to 80 per cent of the Earth's continental crust -- is not the sluggish,
multi-million year process that scientists previously believed. In fact,
Cruden and his co-authors argue that the process occurs in rapid, dynamic
and possibly catastrophic events
that take between 1,000 and 100,000 years, depending on the size of the
granite intrusion. And that's changing how scientists look at the formation
of the Earth's continents.

Cruden conducted the research with Nick Petford of Kingston University and
Ken McCaffrey of the University of Durham, both in England, and Jean-Louis
Vigneresse of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Nancy,
France.

"In the past, we thought that granite magma -- which cools and crystallizes
to form very large granite intrusions -- moved up through kilometres of
crust as large, solid blobs at rates of about a metre per year. Because the
continental crust is largely made up of these intrusions, the prevailing
view was that the continents grew slowly and steadily over millions of
years. But we've found that magma actually has quite low viscosity and is
relatively runny," says Cruden.
"Because it is runny, it's able to channel its way from the mantle and lower
crust through fractures and cracks that are as small as one metre thick.
This way, the magma can ascend 20 to 30 kilometres into the upper crust
quite rapidly."

Therefore, says Cruden, a 50 km wide intrusion of granite, in say Greenland
or the Canadian Shield, that geologists would have once estimated to have
taken millions of years to form may have actually taken only 50,000 years.
Smaller intrusions that are 10 km across may form in as little as 1,000
years. And from a geological point of view, that's extraordinarily fast, he
adds.

The researchers used experimental studies that involved melting rock samples
to understand how granite magma initially forms in the upper mantle and
lower crust and how fast it can move. That data was then applied to
theoretical models to determine its method and rate of ascension. New models
for the emplacement stage -- where the granite is intruded into older rock
in the upper crust -- are based on a combination of theoretical studies and
fieldwork in areas such as the Canadian Shield, Sweden, the Sierra Nevada of
California, Greenland and the Andes of South America. A unique aspect of the
research is that the three main stages of granite formation -- generation,
ascent and emplacement -- are regarded together as a system. Historically,
these processes have been studied by different geological specialists in
isolation from each other.

Cruden likens the granite formation process to subterranean volcanic
eruptions. Like Lego blocks built on top of one another, large parts of the
Earth's continental land masses were created by tens of thousands of quick
eruptions or bursts of molten magma that were transferred rapidly from the
mantle and lower-most crust and then injected as large horizontal sheets
into the upper
crust. These sheets then cooled and crystallized to form the large granite
intrusions that we see exposed at the surface of all continents today, he
says.

The Earth's continents began forming approximately four billion years ago,
Cruden explains. "This research has important implications for how we
understand the basic physics and chemistry of crust formation processes as
well as the formation of economic ore deposits -- gold and copper, for
example -- many of which are associated with granite intrusions."

This study was funded by Natural Environmental Research Council of the
United Kingdom, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of
Canada and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France.

[Janet Wong is a news services officer with the Department of Public
Affairs.]

IMAGE CAPTION: [http://www.newsandevents.utoronto.ca/bin1/001206a.asp]
A cliff on a mountainside in Greenland. The cliff is about 800 m high (i.e.
two CN Towers) and is made up of granite (brown rocks) and "rafts" of older
rock that were intruded by this granite (grey rocks). Photo: John Grocott,
Kingston University, England

================
(4) THE NEAR EARTH ASTEROID THREAT

From Larry Klaes <lklaes@bbn.com>

NSS/Boston Meeting - Thursday, December 7, 2000, 7:30 p.m., MIT

http://www.spaceviews.com/boston/


The Near Earth Asteroid Threat

Near Earth objects present an opportunity for exploration and  development
but there is also risk of Earth impact. Detection  efforts are still in
their infancy with incomplete sky coverage.

Should NASA lead these efforts? What part should the Department of Defense
(DoD) play? Consultant Drake Mormet will present a summary of the latest
reports and discuss the efforts to detect Earth
crossing asteroids and access the risk of impact.

=================
(5) MAD COW DISEASE 'MAY HAVE COME FROM STARDUST'

From Andrew Yee <ayee@nova.astro.utoronto.ca>

[From U.K. Press Association,
http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_136568.html?nav_src=newsIndexHeadline]

Wednesday, 6th December 2000 15:10 GMT

Mad cow disease 'may have come from stardust'

Two top academics believe comets bombarding the earth with extra-terrestrial
bacteria could have caused mad cow disease.

Cattle left to winter outside in England and Wales could have developed mad
cow disease after eating grass laced with a sprinkling of inter-stellar
dust.

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe, of the University of Wales, Cardiff, says
there is growing evidence to suggest all life on Earth came from the stars.

The Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at Cardiff's University
of Wales has put forward the radical theory in conjunction with Cambridge
University counterpart, Professor Sir Fred Hoyle.

Both believe that particles from passing comets can enter the Earth's
atmosphere, bringing with them micro-bacteria. It is these which explain
sudden outbreaks of disease in past centuries, the astronomers claim.

"It may seem a way-out position but the fact is the theory is starting to
gain currency throughout the academic world," said Professor Wickramasinghe.

"It's like Sherlock Holmes says to Watson 'If all the other possibilities
have been ruled out, whatever is left, however unlikely, must be the truth.'
We maintain that life on Earth is far too intricate to have started here and
so it had to come from outside.

"We know Earth and the Moon were being pummelled by comets four billion
years ago, when life started, which we believe brought microbial life and
DNA. It was this process that seeded the Earth with life and, of course, it
is still going on now."

Professor Wickramasinghe said bacteria recently discovered in South America
had been dormant for a quarter-of-a-billion years. That made it uniquely
well qualified to be a space traveller and underpinned their theory about
BSE.

"We believe that the almost unique Welsh and English practice of
out-wintering cattle explains why BSE hit more severely here than elsewhere.
Out-wintering cattle does not happen in Scotland, or Ireland or anywhere on
the Continent. "

He added: "There are between 10 to 100 tons of organic material raining down
on the Earth every day. Small particles of bacterial and viral sizes descend
through the stratosphere in the winter months when cattle in this country
are outside.

"The particles would obviously rain down on the grass, and you cannot think
of a better way to mop it up than to have cattle roaming from field to
field.

"Once a genetic fragment or piece of infected protein got into a few cattle,
man took a hand, by grinding up infected animals and including them in
feed."

Copyright 2000 Ananova Ltd

==================
(6) MARS ROCK FORMATIONS MAY CONTAIN FOSSILIZED LIFE

From Space.com, 5 December 2000
http://www.space.com/cgi-bin/email/gate.cgi?lk=T5&date=001206&go=/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/fossil_life_mars_001205.html

 
By Andrew Bridges
Pasadena Bureau Chief
and Robert Roy Britt
Senior Science Writer

PASADENA, Calif. - The layers upon layers of rock formations seen in newly
unveiled images of Mars may contain beds of fossilized Martian life ripe for
the picking by future missions to the Red Planet, scientists said.

The beds of rock may have formed as sediments settled to the bottom of
primordial seas or lakes - bodies of water that once may have teemed with
Martian life in the planet's ancient past.

As such, the bands of rock may contain evidence that life is not unique to
Earth.

Sedimentary rock outcrops in the Grand Canyon record a rich, detailed
history of events that occurred in a given place. The same might be true of
Mars.

"This is where you would go to look for life or for a record of life," said
Michael Malin, the principal investigator on the camera aboard the Mars
Global Surveyor spacecraft used to make the discoveries. "There is no
argument these would be great candidates for that purpose."

Malin and fellow scientist Ken Edgett, both of Malin Space Science Systems,
San Diego, presented their findings on Monday during a hastily arranged
press conference held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

On Earth, life exists wherever there is water. And if water persisted on the
surface of Mars even 3.5 billion or more years ago, there is no reason why
it would not have represented an attractive abode for life as well,
scientists say.

"If you want to look for evidence of past life on Mars, go where the water
is," said Wes Huntress, NASA's former space science chief and current
director of the Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution of Washington.
"And if, in fact, it is confirmed that this is where water once was, then
this is the right haystack to be looking in to see if you can find that
needle."

Scientists have seen evidence of layering on Mars since Mariner 9 first
began returning data after arriving in orbit around the planet in late 1971.
And they have long theorized that early in Martian history, the planet was a
warm, wet place.

FULL STORY at
http://www.space.com/cgi-bin/email/gate.cgi?lk=T5&date=001206&go=/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/fossil_life_mars_001205.html
 
=================
(7) OH DEAR: GREEN SENATOR DOWN UNDER IN PROTEST OVER STARRY POLUTION ......

From NINEMSN, 5 December 2000
http://news.ninemsn.com.au/sci_tech/story_5286.asp

The last generation to see a natural night sky: Brown

AAP --
Poets and lovers around the world would suffer when the space station
Endeavour lit up as they would no longer enjoy a natural night sky,
parliament was told today.

Greens senator Bob Brown (Tas) told Environment Minister Robert Hill the new
space station, Endeavour, would be brighter than the brightest star in the
sky, Sirius.

"As it grows close to Christmas, I want to ask the minister about stars,"
Senator Brown said.

"Are we the last generation ever to see a natural night sky?" he asked.

"Who has consulted the people, not least poets and lovers, about this loss
of the starry commons?

"Does not the government regret that we will be the last generation ever to
see the natural starry climes of night?"

Senator Hill said he did take the matter seriously, but it was a product of
progress.

"The best I can suggest is we conduct some form of global plebescite over
the next 10 years, funded no doubt by AusAID - perhaps the AFP would be
prepared to make a contribution," he said.

Senator Hill said the only stars he could see in the chamber were on the
coalition side.

"I look at Senator Herron, at Senator Minchin and at Senator Vanstone - real
stars within the Australian parliamentary process," Senator Hill said.
 
Copyright 2000, Ninemsn

===============
(8) AND FINALLY: ORBIT SOMETHING FOR FUN

From Matthew Genge <M.Genge@nhm.ac.uk>

Warning - tiredness can kill [careers], ensure you take regular breaks in
between doing high quality science.

A highly recommended method that can absorb many happy hours of in between
time is to launch satellites with the "Earth to Moon Experiment". This JAVA
applet simulates the orbital behaviour of truly Near Earth Objects and best
of all is loads of fun.

http://timeline.aps.org/multimedia/satellites.html


--------------------------------------------------------------------
THE CAMBRIDGE-CONFERENCE NETWORK (CCNet)
--------------------------------------------------------------------
The CCNet is a scholarly electronic network. To subscribe/unsubscribe,
please contact the moderator Benny J Peiser <b.j.peiser@livjm.ac.uk>.
Information circulated on this network is for scholarly and educational
use only. The attached information may not be copied or reproduced for
any other purposes without prior permission of the copyright holders.
The fully indexed archive of the CCNet, from February 1997 on, can be
found at http://abob.libs.uga.edu/bobk/cccmenu.html
DISCLAIMER: The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed in the
articles and texts and in other CCNet contributions do not  necessarily
reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the moderator of this
network.



CCCMENU CCC for 2000

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of

The content and opinions expressed on this Web page do not necessarily reflect the views of nor are they endorsed by the University of Georgia or the University System of Georgia.